It’s no secret that we all want to do business with people whom we know and trust. So, how do you build rapport and create trust with new contacts at networking events? By offering value-added advice–solid, helpful information provided out of a genuine concern for another person.
Let’s say you’re a real estate agent talking with someone at a networking event who, although not ready to buy a home today, is heading in that direction. You could say something like this:
Well, I know you’re not interested in buying a home right now. But, when you’re ready to start looking, I highly recommend checking out the north part of town. A lot of my clients are seeing their homes appreciate in the 10 to 20 percent range, and from what I understand, the city is thinking about building another middle school in that area.
See how it’s possible to offer some value-added advice without being too salesy? A statement like this acknowledges that your prospect is not currently in the market (first sentence) but still demonstrates your expertise, so he will remember you when he’s ready to move.
This model works for consultants, CPAs, accountants, financial planners, coaches–just about anyone in a service-based industry in which knowledge is the main product. If you’re concerned about giving away your intellectual capital for free, look at it this way: few people are going to sign up to do business with you if they’re not sure you can do the job. In the absence of a tangible product, you have nothing but your technical expertise to demonstrate that you have the goods. And when you think about it, that makes sense. Whenever you’re ready to buy an automobile, it doesn’t matter how much research you’ve done on a particular model, you’re probably not going to write your check until you’ve taken the car for a test drive.
The same is true for your prospects. Give them a little test drive to show how it would feel to do business with you. If you’re a marketing consultant, give them a couple of ideas on how they can increase the exposure of their business. Don’t go overboard; maybe offer a technique you read in a magazine or tried with one of your clients. Just give them something they can try on to see if it works.
Not only will this open up a good conversation with new contacts while you’re out networking, if you play your cards right, whom do you think they’ll go to when they’re in need of your kind of service? When it comes to building rapport and creating trust, nothing does it better than offering value-added advice.